Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species 16 – The Javan Rhinoceros

Javan rhinocerosDescription
Prehistoric-looking, short-sighted and unbelievably shy, these astonishing beasts can run up to 30 miles per hour.  Needless to say, a charging rhino is best avoided.

As large animals go, the Javan rhino is possibly the rarest, and considered one of the most endangered, species on earth.  Only fifty remain in the world – quite alarming since they have been around for 50 million years.

50 million years!!   As with other endangered species, it begs the question; how has man managed to do so much damage in such a relatively short period of time?

Fascinatingly, no Javan rhinos whatsoever are kept in captivity, and the few that are left in the wild can all be located on the same Indonesian island.

The Javan is distinguished by its one small horn and often the majority of females have no horn at all.   Their skins have a dull greyish hue and they are smaller than other rhinos with less apparent folds of skin.

Though babies stay with their mothers for months, sometimes even years, adult Javan rhinos are usually solitary; but, when grouped together, they are known as a ‘crash of rhinos’. Who would have thought!

And, don’t be fooled! Even with all that armour plating, a rhino’s skin is not as tough as it looks.  Insects can and do bite them and they do get burnt by the sun.

Tropical rainforests

Western Java, Indonesia

What they eat
Fallen fruit, plants, shoots and twigs – of which they manage to munch their way through fifty kilograms per day.

The usual suspects: hunting & poaching (Chinese medicine), habitat loss and degradation. Lack of genetic diversity is a large contributor to the Javan rhino’s decline as well, as there are so few rhinos left; new mates are hard to find and those remaining are often related.

Status: Critically Endangered
Virtually all Javan rhino populations have disappeared over the last 150 years.  Those that remain on the island of Java are listed by the IUCN as critically endangered and unless something is done fairly soon, the Javan rhinoceros will probably be extinct within the next decade.  All the appropriate agencies are currently working to change this deplorable situation in an attempt to provide a future for these noble animals.

“Once species become extinct, no corrective legislation can bring them back—they are gone forever”
Allen M. Solomon